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The Skinny: Carolina 6, Isles 3 (Carolina wins series 4-1)

"The Skinny" By Eric Hornick Eastern Conference Round 1, Game 5 Carolina 6, Isles 3 Carolina Wins Series 4-1 School is out. Jack D...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Stat Trick: Ottawa 4, Isles 3

For forty minutes, the Islanders looked like that they were going to go into the Olympic break on a high note, sweeping a pair of back-to-backs, and winning three of the final four before the two week hiatus.  Unfortunately, then they played the third period.  On to the trick:

1.  Each team scored once in the first period.  Jarkko Ruuttu beat Dwayne Roloson for his tenth goal of the season, 6:16 into play. Blake Comeau matched that with his first of two goals with just over four minutes to play in the session.

2.  The Isles took control of the game in the middle period as Matt Moulson and Comeau both scored.  It was the 22nd goal of the season for Moulson, tops on the team. No Islander scored twenty goals last season; Moulson's 22 is one shy of Bill Guerin's team-leading 23 in the 2007-08 season.  It was the first time in his career that Comeau has scored twice in a game. Prior to today, he had scored 22 goals...in 22 different games.

3. The Isles had a chance to take a stranglehold on the game early in the third with a 5-on-3 power play, but when the Sens killed it off, they grabbed all of the momentum, leading to goals by Alex Kovalec (411th career), Jason Spezza (on the power play) and Mike Fisher. Fisher's goal, the second Senator tally in 93 seconds turned out to be the winner, which is not surprising. Fisher has scored seven career goals against the Islanders; five have been game winning goals.  The Isles pressed for the deadlock in the final 9:14 but couldn't beat Brian Elliott.

...a few more...

4.  It's only the second time all season that the Islanders lost a game in regulation that they led after two periods (20-2-4).  It's also only the second time that the Sens have won, when trailing after forty minutes (2-21-1).  Ottawa's comeback deprived the Isles of a chance for a .500 February.  They finish the month with a record of 2-4-0.

5. The power play continues to be a sore point.  The Isles failed on all five power plays, including a 54 second 5-on-3 to start the third period.  The Isles are 0-12 in the last three games, and are 2-41 since Rob Schremp scored in the first period against Washington on January 26th.  The Isles' power play is 35-237 on the season; their 14.8% is last in the NHL. 

6. Matt Martin had a strong game, leading the Isles with eight hits and adding six shots on goal (only Tavares, who matched his career-high with seven, had more).  He now has 14 hits in his first four games.

7. Alex Kovalev had points on all three Senator goals in the third period, and is now 12 points shy of 1,000 for his career. He has 28 goals and 46 assists in 79 career goals against the Islanders.

8. The Isles have played their opponents even for two periods this season (outscored 114-113) but they have been outscored 72-34 in the third period.  The 34 goals are five fewer than any other team has scored in any period (Phoenix has 39 in the first period), while only Carolina (75) and Anaheim (74) have allowed more third period goals.

9. Dwayne Roloson, playing his first Coliseum game since being pulled after one period on January 26th, made 31 saves in his 500th NHL game.  He has now lost five straight starts and six out of his last seven. Brian Elliott had 34 saves for the Sens as he defeated the Isles for the second time in as many career starts.

10. The Sens lead the season series three games to none and six points to two.  The final meeting will be on April 3rd at the Coliseum.

Up next: The Olympic break.  Scott Gordon and Mark Streit head to Vancouver with Gordon as an assistant on Team USA and Streit as captain of the Swiss team.  When the season resumes on March 2nd, the Isles will entertain Chicago.  The Isles have dominated the Blackhawks in recent seasons, winning five straight games by a combined 25-9. Last season's win in Chicago was Peter Mannino's first (and to this point only) NHL win; Mannino is having a stellar season with Chicago in the IHL this season--he's 17-3-0. This will be the Hawks' first visit to Long Island since Halloween, 2006.  Perhaps the Blackhawk visit will be the cure for the Islander power play.  The Isles last scored three power play goals on March 15, 2009 in Chicago (74 games ago) and have not scored three power play goals at the Coliseum since that Halloween visit by the Hawks- a span of 146 home games.

Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Stat Trick: Isles 5, Lightning 4

Richard Park scored a pair of goals, the latter awarded after a video review with only 2:22 to play, as the Islanders defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-4 on Saturday afternoon at the Coliseum. On to the trick:

1. Blake Comeau gave the Isles a 1-0 lead 7:31 into play. It's only the second time in the last twelve games that the Isles have scored first, and the first time in those twelve games that the Isles have had a lead at any point in the first period in those twelve games. The lead did not last long, as Steven Stamkos tied the game and Mike Lundin gave the Bolts the lead after twenty minutes. It was the 50th goal since last February 17th for Stamkos; only Alex Ovechkin (57) and Sidney Crosby (51) have more goals in that span.

2. There were four goals scored in the middle session, all by players who started the season with the Islanders. After Doug Weight scored his first goal of the season, Nate Thompson scored his first goal for the Lightning. (Thompson was claimed on waivers by Tampa on January 21st) Two strikes by the Isles in a sixty-second span gave the Isles the intermission advantage as Kyle Okposo tied the game off hard work from John Tavares and Park converted the rebound of a Comeau shot to give the Isles the lead.

3. Steve Downie tied the game 2:57 into the third, and the Lightning controlled most of the final period, outshooting the Isles 19-7, but it was Park who would score for the Islanders to give them the victory. It was Park's sixth career two-goal game, and his first since January 2, 2009.

...a few more...

4. It was a goaltending battle of ex-Flyers, as Martin Biron stopped 38 shots for his second straight win, beating former Flyer mater Antero Niittymaki. It's the first winning streak for Biron as an Islander and his 38 saves matches his season high. The Isles have scored eight goals in Biron's last two starts (both wins), after scoring only seven goals in his previous six starts.

5. Several Islanders broke scoring droughts: it was the first goal in 30 games for Weight, first in 11 games for Park, first in nine games for Comeau and first in eight games for Okposo.

6. The Isles improve to 16-11-2 at home; their 34 points equals their second highest total over the first 29 home games since 1987-88. (The Isles had 40 points in 29 games in 2003-04.)

7. Matt Martin and former Islander Nate Thompson engaged in a first period brawl. Martin also received a misconduct penalty; he has 22 penalty minutes in his first three NHL games.

8. Bruno Gervais finished +3 for the Isles as he was on-ice for all three second period goals. It was the first time since January 19th that he had a "plus" rating. The three Islander goals in the middle session marked their first three-goal period since January 2nd against Atlanta.

9. The Isles recorded their 25th win of the season; however twelve of the 25 have been in overtime or in shootouts. It's the first regulation win for the Isles since Rick DiPietro (who apparently is out again, this time with the flu) blanked New Jersey on January 18th.

10. The Isles scored more goals in this game than they did in the first three games against Tampa, when they were outscored 13-4. The teams split the two Coliseum games, but the Lightning win the season series three games to one.

Up next: The Isles play their final pre-Olympic game on Sunday at 5:00 when they entertain Ottawa. The Isles have struggled on the back-end of back-to-backs, going 1-8-0 in their last nine, with the victory coming in a shootout in Phoenix. It's the first visit of the Senators since November 29, 2008; the Isles swept both Coliseum meeting last season. The Isles played Ottawa even through sixty minutes in Ontario twice this season, but the Sens own both an overtime win and a shootout win over the Isles this season.

Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Stat Trick: Pittsburgh 3, Isles 1

Chris Kunitz scored his first two goals of 2010 to lead the Penguins to a 3-1 win over the Isles at the Igloo in Pittsburgh.  On to the trick:

1. Kunitz, who returned to action on Sunday after missing 15 games with an abdominal tear, gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead just past the midway point of the second period.  Islander-killer Evgeny Malkin added a tally at 17:00 of the period to double the Penguins' advantage. Malkin, who had already assisted on Kunitz' goal to extend his point streak to 11 games, now has 14 goals and 20 assists in 26 career games against the Isles.

2. Frans Nielsen got the Islanders back in the game off a face-off play midway through the third period, but Kunitz added his second tally with 5:12 to play to seal matters.  Nielsen is the only Islander forward to score in the past three games.

3. The Isles out-shot the Penguins 38-28.  It was the most shots for the Islanders in a road game since launching 40 against Florida on November 14th.  Marc-Andre Fleury made 37 saves as he improves to 10-4-3 against the Isles in his career.

...a few more...

4.  The Isles have lost seven straight in Pittsburgh and are just 1-10 in their last 11 trips to the Steel City.  The Isles are 3-16-1 in divisional road games over the past two seasons, with all three wins at Madison Square Garden. 

5.  The Isles went 0-3 on the power play, including a 48 second 5-on-3.  The Isles, who allowed four power play goals in their last game in Pittsburgh, killed the only Penguin power play.

6.  The Isles have dropped six straight on the road, and have been outscored in those games 22-9.  They are 0-20 on the power play in that stretch.

7. Dwayne Roloson, who played his 499th NHL game, suffered his fourth straight loss.  It's the first time this season that's he's gone more than three games without a win.

8.  Scoring Slumps: Sean Bergenheim/John Tavares - 12 games, Trent Hunter/Richard Park - 10 games, Blake Comeau - 8 games, Kyle Okposo - 7 games

9.  With the Flyers defeating the Devils in the snow at the Rock tonight, the Isles are now seven points out of the playoffs ... and only seven points ahead of the last place (in the East) Maple Leafs.  Of course, one look across the ice can show the advantage a team can accrue by drafting top picks in consecutive years: Marc-Andre Fleury, Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal were selected by the Penguins with a top-2 pick in consecutive drafts from 2003-2006.  Both Fleury and Crosby were the top pick overall.

10. The Penguins lead the season series three games to one (and seven points to three).  The teams will meet twice in four days to end the regular season in April.

Up next:  The Isles return home to finish up the pre-Olympic schedule, hosting Tampa at 2pm Saturday and Ottawa at 5pm Sunday.  The Lightning have swept the first three games of the season series, including a 5-2 win in Tampa last week.

Leftovers from Tuesday's Stat Trick: (with thanks to Elias and Matt Borzello)

Matt Martin did something on Tuesday night that had never been done in his lifetime.  He became the first Islander since Rich Pilon to record two assists in his NHL debut.  Pilon had two assists against the Calgary Flames on October 6, 1988.  (Martin was born seven months later.)  Gary Suter scored for the Flames as part of a three-goal Calgary comeback; his nephew Ryan played against Martin on Tuesday.

All three Islander goals Tuesday were from defensemen as Freddy Meyer, Bruno Gervais and Mark Streit scored.  It is the first time since December 29, 2007 that three Islander defensemen have all scored in the same game. That night, Chris Campoli, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Andy Sutton all beat Martin Brodeur as the Isles defeated the Devils 5-2.
Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Matt Martin

Matt Martin made his NHL debut on Tuesday night.  He assisted on two of the Islander goals.  He had only one two assist gamein the minor leagues this season.  Martin's two assists for the Isles are one fewer than Jon Sim has recorded.
 Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

Stat Trick: Isles 4, Nashville 3 (shoot-out)

Mark Streit scored a power play goal with just over 11 seconds to play to knot the game and John Tavares provided the deciding goal in the shoot-out as the Islanders defeated the Predators 4-3 at the Coliseum.  On to the trick:

1. Following a scoreless first period, the Isles did something they hadn't done in ten games: score first.  Freddy Meyer broke the seal 5:10 into the middle session.  The lead didn't last long as Cal O'Reilly and Joel Ward scored 3:16 apart to give Nashville the lead.  The Isles got even late in the period on a 5-on-3, with Bruno Gervais connecting for the second time this season.

2. Steve Sullivan's power play goal 4:12 into the third period to give the Predators a 3-2 advantage, but with Martin Biron on the bench in the final minute, Martin Erat was called for boarding.  Streit made Erat pay with the third goal of the game by an Islander defensemen to knot the contest.

3. In the shootout, Frans Nielsen connected on the first shot to give the Isles the lead.  After Sullivan and David Legwand failed for the Preds and Rob Schremp and Matt Moulson were stopped for the Isles, Martin Erat tied the shootout after round three,  John Tavares' wrist shot gave the Isles the lead in the shootout and when Biron stopped Patric Hornqvist, the Isles had broken their seven game losing streak.  Nielsen is now 10 for 17 in shootouts; he is the only active player in the entire NHL to have scored as many as ten shootout goals on fewer than twenty shots.

...a few more..

4.  Biron made 24 saves to break a personal 6-game losing streak and record his first win since November 13th and his first at the Coliseum since blanking Buffalo on ds.  Pekka Rinne finished with 29 saves for the Predators.

5. Despite their recent troubles, the Isles reach 56 points eleven games earlier than they did last season.  The Isles have only five fewer ppoints than they had all last season.

6.  All three Islander goals were by defensemen.  They had not had a goal by a defender since Jack Hillen scored on January 23rd against New Jersey.  It's the fofth time this season that they have had at least two goals from their defense but the first time that they have had three.

7. The Isles scored twice on the power play, ending an 0-24 drought.  It's the third time this season that the Isles have had two powerplayt goals in a game at the Coliseum.

8. The Isles did not score three goals in any of the seven games of their losing streak.  The three goals equaled thier total from the previous three games.

9.  The Isles now lead the NHL in home shootout wins with six.  They have also won six straight home shootouts since losing onto Pittsburgh on Opening Night and have won five straight shootouts overall.  The Isles improve to 7-5 in shootouts (and 12-8 in games that have taken extra time).  It's only the second time that the Isles have won five straight shootouts (seven straight, over two seasons, in 2006), and only the second time that the Isles have played at least 20 overtime games in a season (The club record is 22, set in the 2006/07 season).  The Isles' 12 OT/SO wins tie Montreal and Phoenix for the league lead; their 20 trips to overtime are tied with Boston for the most in the NHL.  The Isles are 32-21 all-time in shootouts, including 19-8 at the Coliseum.

10. This was the only meeting of the season between the teams.  This was the first Coliseum game between the teams since 2006; the Isles had not defeated the Predators on Long Island since 2002.  The Isles have had five different head coaches for the six games that they have hosted Nashville; only Butch Goring has coached more than once.

Up next:  The Isles have a speedy turn-around as they play Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.  It's the fourth meeting of the teams this season; each team hold an extra time win and the Penguins also hold a regulation victory against the Isles.  The Isles are 3-15-1 in divisional road games under Scott Gordon, however all three wins are at Madison Square Garden.  The Isles have lost six straight games in Pittsburgh.

Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Isles prospect Matt Donovan

The Isles are one of only a handful of teams to have played an NHL game in Donovan's home state.  On December 13, 1992, the Isles defeated Edmonton 4-1 in an Islander  "home game" played in Oklahoma City.

<<Steve Thomas and Tom Fitzgerald each scored two goals tonight and the Islanders beat Edmonton, 4-1, in the first regular-season National Hockey League game ever played in Oklahoma.  The game .. drew 11,110.>> nytimes

That win, fwiw, ended an Islander 11 game winless streak against Edmonton dating back to February 14, 1989  -- the day Brandon (don't call me SOO-ter) Sutter was born.

Read on for the Donovan story from today's Denver Post.

Sooner Donovan's a boon to DU hockey
By Terry Frei
The Denver Post
Posted: 02/09/2010 01:00:00 AM MST
Updated: 02/09/2010 07:46:34 AM MST

Matt Donovan hears it every day, usually at a rink.

You're from WHERE?

Yes, the University of Denver freshman defenseman is from Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain; where football is king; and where — at least according to perception — hockey is to his native state what bobsledding is to Jamaica.

"I get it from everyone," Donovan said recently at Magness Arena. "Then it's something like, 'We didn't know Oklahoma had hockey.' Or, 'We didn't know Oklahoma had ice.' "

That makes his role in what happened Jan. 6 even more unlikely. After the U.S. knocked off Canada 6-5 in overtime in the title game of the World Junior (Under-20) Championships in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan,

Donovan stood with his gold medal around his neck and heard the U.S. anthem.

Donovan, 19, and a 2008 draft choice of the NHL's New York Islanders, had three goals and two assists in seven tournament games. The American team included seven players from Western Collegiate Hockey Association teams who took breaks from their college seasons to play for their country — and shock the Canadians in the championship game.

"With 15,000 people screaming against us, it was pretty nuts," said Donovan, who is from Edmond, Okla. "I don't think you can describe the feeling of winning that."

Then Donovan returned to the college game.

"I was kind of excited to get back into the groove of things, to be back with my team," he said.

Going into DU's Friday and Saturday Western Collegiate Hockey Association home games against Minnesota, Donovan has four goals and 12 assists in 23 games while playing a prominent role on the blue line.

How Donovan ended up on the Hilltop is testimony to the geographic expansion of a sport on the participatory level in the U.S. His path is also an illustration of how significantly NCAA hockey recruiting has changed in the past two decades, with coaches looking at prospects

 Matt Donovan, who hails from Edmond, Okla., was a fourth-round draft selection of the New York Islanders in the 2008 NHL draft. He has four goals and 12 assists for the Pioneers this season. ( Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post )from "nontraditional" areas, and at younger players.

Donovan stands a chance of becoming the first NHL player born and raised in Oklahoma. His father, Larry Donovan, is a Boston native who came to Oklahoma for college — and stayed. He worked for the state of Oklahoma insurance department before getting into rink management full time.

"Matthew was about 3 when he started skating by himself," Larry Donovan said from Oklahoma City. "He wanted to be there all the time."

Ice time was at a premium in Oklahoma City, where minor-league hockey is deep- rooted, but participation at the youth level isn't.
"There were two rinks I grew up playing at," Matt said. "One is Arctic Edge, and they just put in a second ice sheet now. My dad's at Blazers Ice Center."

Matt also played baseball, football and golf.

"He was a really good athlete, but those other things were really something for him to do in the offseason," Larry Donovan said.

Larry coached the University of Oklahoma club team, but it wasn't long before he knew his son could play at a higher level.

The competition as he was climbing the youth hockey ladder, Matt said, "was not great, but good enough." He listed a handful of his contemporaries who have gone on to Tier I junior hockey, but it also was apparent that he would have to leave home to find a greater challenge.

Matt moved to Dallas — one of the nation's youth hockey hotbeds — to attend Coppell High School and play Midget AAA for the Dallas Stars.

"I had just turned 16, I had gotten my license, and my mom (Kathryn) definitely didn't want me to leave," Matt said. "But it was a no-brainer for me. I wanted to play college hockey and that was the way to go."

His father wasn't wild about the idea, either.

"I'm not going to lie to you," Larry Donovan said. "I didn't want him to leave, because once they leave, they leave, you know? It's hard to get them back."

Matt lived with "billet" parents, next door to the high school.

"I walked to the high school, walked back, went to practice, went home, ate dinner, did homework and went to sleep," Donovan said.

Then the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the United States Hockey League drafted him. The USHL is as close to major junior as players can get without losing their eligibility to play NCAA hockey. DU was already recruiting Donovan on a "futures" basis, with assistant coach Steve Miller as the point man. Donovan committed to the Pioneers before he ever played a game in the USHL.

DU coach George Gwozdecky said he raised his eyebrows a bit when he heard that the prospect was from Oklahoma.

"But we knew that with his dad's involvement in hockey, there were some bloodlines there," Gwozdecky said. "He was impacted by his dad's love for the game."

DU watched him in his final two years of high school and in the USHL — he graduated from Kennedy High in Cedar Rapids, Iowa — and his development validated the Pioneers' decision to commit a scholarship to him so early. And the Islanders took him in the fourth round of the NHL draft after his first season at Cedar Rapids.

As a freshman this season, he has stepped into a regular shift with the Pioneers.

"There's lots of growing up left to do," he said. "There are lots of things I have to work on to get to the next level. I know what I can do offensively, but defensively, I have to get stronger."

Said Gwozdecky: "He's getting better and better. He's getting more confident, like all our freshmen. It's a different role he has to play — a challenging role on defense, especially in our league where you're playing against guys who are so much bigger and stronger than you've seen. He's coming along real well."

Because of lowered threshold ages for free agency, NHL teams have been less patient about waiting for draft choices attending colleges in recent years, and the Islanders have been among the least patient. It seems unlikely that they would make a run at Donovan until after his junior season, but nothing can be ruled out.

"Right now, I'm expecting to be here four years, until someone tells me otherwise," Donovan said.

Read more: http://www.denverpost.com/sports/ci_14361972#ixzz0f4IipMVU
 Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

Monday, February 08, 2010

LI Herald: Scaled dowm Lighthouse

New zone to call for 'scaled-back' Lighthouse
Hired consultant to devise 'blueprint' for Nassau Coliseum property
By Mike Caputo

The Lighthouse plan as proposed by co-developers Charles Wang and Scott Rechler. On Monday, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray will announce a plan to craft a new zone for the Nassau Coliseum property that will be a 'scaled-back' version of the original proposal.
A Hempstead Town Council vote on Tuesday would all but certify its intent to consider only a scaled-back version of the Lighthouse project.

Supervisor Kate Murray told the Herald she expects the seven-member board to approve legislation that would authorize the town to retain an engineering and planning firm to devise what she calls a "zoning blueprint" for the 77 acres surrounding the Nassau Coliseum.

The zone would act as a set of guidelines for the type and scope of permitted construction at the site.

The project, led by New York Islanders owner Charles Wang and real estate executive Scott Rechler, calls for the renovation of the Nassau Coliseum and the redevelopment of the property surrounding it with a mix of retail, business and residential usages.

The proposal submitted to the town includes a five-star hotel, a new convention center, sports and recreation center, a residential village, space for offices, retail and restaurants, a cinema and a canal.

The new zone would require Lighthouse developers to scale back their proposal, the supervisor explained.

"We will be paying [the consultant] to make a zone to create a development that we believe the board can live with, one we believe the residents can live with, and yet at the same time a project that would take in a number of the elements that Wang has proposed," Murray said. "It isn't going to be the same, but a scaled-down version."

The town will hire Frederick P. Clarke Associates, Murray said. Clarke was overseeing the town's environmental analysis of the proposal until shortly after the zoning hearing, which was when Murray says was about when the Lighthouse group stopped paying for the consultant's services.

According to town officials, the Lighthouse Development Group owes the firm about $200,000 for its services.

Murray also said the Lighthouse group has not answered questions that were submitted by the town board following the September zoning hearing. Some of the major questions included traffic mitigation, building heights and water usage.

The group has "shut their operations down and gone silent," Murray said. "The board understands that this piece of property is too important to be sort of lying in limbo and threatened with a development that goes down the drain."

"We want to jump start the process," the supervisor added.

Follow the first period of a home game between the Islanders and the Carolina Hurricanes, Wang told MSG Network announcer Howie Rose that his group awaits a "yes" or "no" answer from the town.

He did not elaborate or provide further comment. A Lighthouse representative did not return a request for comment.

Wang and his group have not addressed the media on the project since Oct. 15, when the Islanders owner denied a published report that claimed he withdrew the project.

On Oct. 3, Wang told the media that he would "explore all options," which could include a possible relocation of the franchise.

Murray said she would announce the town's plan at a Monday morning press conference.

Visit LIHerald.com for updates on this story.
 Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Huge discount on Isles tix for Tuesday game

 Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

BD Gallof on the Lighthouse

 Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

Botta on the Lighthouse

Charles Wang's on-the-fly TV appearance on Saturday was not without an agenda. Point Blank has learned from political operatives and media insiders that the Town of Hempstead is preparing to release unflattering details about Lighthouse negotiations to some of its media favorites.
Wang may have acted surprised and faux-annoyed when Howie Rose asked him about the Lighthouse Project, but something must be understood. A major league sports team owner does not hastily request an interview on his team's broadcast, and then go on live TV without knowing what will be asked. (Worth noting: Wang did not speak with any other reporters in the press box - those he does not have some control over - just his friendly broadcast rightsholder).
Wang knew the interview would be about the state of his team's rebuilding project and the Lighthouse Project. For anyone to pretend otherwise - even as Wang told Rose, "I thought we weren't talking about this" and "You shouldn't be asking me this" - is foolish.
In the interview, the Islanders owner said there have been no discussions with the Town of Hempstead since a public hearing in September. He also said he did not know if Ed Mangano supports the project because there haven't been any talks with the new Nassau County Executive.
As documented by reporters and bloggers since September, the Lighthouse has not paid Town consultant FP Clark and communication has been primarily non-existent between the developers and the Town.
Since I'm not on the Christmas card list of Hempstead honchos Kate Murray, Joe Ra or Mike Deery, I will not get their talking points and will gladly sit out the Hempstead affair.
I spoke with a high-ranking County official late Saturday night who argued that Wang is misleading Islanders fans by saying he hasn't heard from Nassau. "The County Executive has reached out to Wang and has not had his calls returned," said the source. Following Wang's edict for a media blackout on the future of the Islanders in Nassau or anywhere else, Lighthouse officials did not return my calls seeking comment.
If the Town of Hempstead was looking a wise PR time to fire back, it has arrived now that the Islanders' recent positive momentum has been derailed by a depressing seven-game losing streak. The life of an Islanders fan is never easy.
If there's any good news in all of this, the darts expected to be thrown by Hempstead - and possibly returned by the LDC - sure beat the silence. Although the pacifist Islanders have engaged in as many on-ice fights in the last two months as Brandon Prust did last night (two), the gloves are coming off in the battle for the Lighthouse Project.
Even to the most casual observer it has been apparent for a long time that the developers are not going to get close to 100% of their massive project. They have their options - Queens, Brooklyn - but have been curiously hesitant to pursue them. To be sure, and with no pun intended, the next move is Wang's.
 Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

Stat Trick errata (Tampa)

Niittymaki actually has four career wins against the Isles.  His first, not most recent win, against the Isles was in 2005.  He last beat the Isles in 2008.
 Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

Stat Trick: Carolina 3, Isles 1

Justin Peters made 34 saves to record a victory in his National Hockey League debut, as the Hurricanes defeated the Isles 3-1, handing New York a season-worst seventh straight loss.  On to the Trick...

1. Jussi Jokinen scored the only goal of the first period, off a bad rebound allowed by Rick DiPietro.  It was the 20th goal of the season for Jokinen, extending his point streak to six straight games. It's the first time in his five year career that he's reached twenty goals.

2. The Isles tied the game midway through the second period on a shorthanded goal by Frans Nielsen.  It was the second career shorthanded goal for Nielsen, who scored shorthanded in Detroit last March.  It was also the Isles' fifth shorthanded goal, but their first since December 26th. 

3. Patrick Dwyer scored the winning goal midway late in the second period; Joni Pitkanen added an empty net for the final margin.

... a few more...

4.  Di Pietro finished with 22 saves, as he dropped to 2-5-0 on the season.  He's lost four straight starts.  Since winning six straight starts in February, 2008, DiPietro is 4-15-0 in his last 19 decisions.

5.  The Isles failed on all five power plays, including a 26 second 5-on-3.  The Isles have gone five straight games without a power play goal for the first time since last February/March.

6.  The Isles have lost seven straight for the first time since losing seven straight in regulation and an eighth in overtime last January 2nd-19th.

7.  The Isles have scored only ten goals in their last eight games (1-7-0).  It's the first time since November, 2000 that they have scored as few as ten goals in an eight game stretch; they haven't scored fewer goals in an eight game stretch since scoring only nine goals in an eight game stretch in February 1973.  The club record for fewest goals in an eight-game stretch is seven, set in the eight games prior to their historical 9-7 win in Boston in January 1973.

8. In addition to their 35 shots on goal, the Isles had 23 shots blocked by Carolina.  Eight of the blocks were by Tim Gleason.

9.  Nielsen had six shots on goal, and won 12 of 19 face-offs.  He was "even" for the game, and leads tthe team with a +12 rating. His eight goals on the season are one shy of last year's total.

10. The Hurricanes earn a split of the season, two games each, and win the series on points, six points to four, as both Islander wins were in extra time.  Carolina is 6-0-2 against the Islanders in the last two seasons.

Up next: The Islanders entertain Nashville on Tuesday.  The Preds have beaten the Isles five straight times (0-4-1) dating back to an Adrian Aucoin overtime winner in October 2002.  With the Islanders' win over Detroit last month, the Isles have beaten every other team at the Coliseum since their last win over the Predators.
 Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Stat-irical Trick: Carolina 3, Isles 1

The real Stat Trick will follow later, but tonight's Coliseum experience had so many strange events, it merits a Trick of its own...

1. The turning point of the evening was the National Anthem, or rather the introduction of it.  With regular PA guy Roger Luce not available, the Isles reached into Bridgeport for the Sound Tigers' PA announcer (who I believe is Adam Goodman, based on his Linked In page).  Goodman introduced the singers as being from "St. John the Bastard".  (We checked the tape to make sure!)

2. When Deb Placey completed her pre-game comments and sent the broadcast to Howie and Billy, the MSG+2 cameras were on John Tavares... who unfortunately started to pick his nose.

3. Islanders owner Charles Wang asked to appear on the broadcast in the first intermission...and did not want to talk about the Lighthouse Project through the media.

...wait, there's more...

4. Brandon Sutter, who was born on Long Island on a day that his dad played for the team, had his name mispronounced by the PA announcer when he assisted on the winning goal. For the record, it's Sutter, not Soo-ter.

5.  The blimp that flies in the Coliseum during intermissions malfunctioned and ended up stuck in the middle of the press box.

All in all, a very strange night.

 Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

Stat Trick: Tampa Bay 5, Isles 2

Thursday night in Tampa, the Islanders suffered their six straight loss, all in regulation, as they blew a 2-1 lead and dropped a 5-2 decision to the Lightning.  On to the trick:

1. Steven Stamkos scored 14:16 into play for the game's only power play goal.  It was the fifth straight game that the Isles had allowed a power play goal and the eighth straight game in which the Isles allowed the game's opening goal.  Matt Moulson tied the game for the Islanders 70 seconds later with his team-leading 21st goal of the season.

2.  The Islanders grabbed a short-lived lead on a Jon Sim goal , his 8th, at 9:12 of the middle session.  But Isles-killer Martin St. Louis tied the game 25 seconds later  and Vinny Lecavalier gave Tampa the lead by converting on a 2-on-0 just 36 seconds after that.

3. Stamkos' 2nd goal of the game (and 31st of the season) gave the Lightning some breahting room midway through the third; Alex Tanguay settled matters with an empty-netter in the final minute.

...a few more...

4.  Antero Nittymaki picked up the win for Tampa, making 34 saves, incuding 28 in the first two periods.  Dwayne Roloson finished with 26 saves for the Isles.

5. The Isles have scored only nine goals in the last seven games; it's their worst offensive drought since scoring seven in a seve-game span from November 20-December 4, 2003.

6. Rookie defender Viktor Hedman, who was a healthy scratch earlier this season, was +4 for the Lightning, while Kuris Foster was +3.
7.  St. Louis has a goal in five striaght games for the Lightning, winners of six of their last nine games.
8. The Isles were outscored 13-4 on the road trip.  Their power play went 0-14 in the four games; the Isles are 0-19 on the power play in their six road losses in 2010.

9.  Nittimaki picks up his second caareer win over the Islanders, and his first in over four years.  He beat the Steve Sitrling-coached Isles as a Flyer in 2005.

10.  The Lightning lead the season series three games to none, (and six points to zero).  The series concludes on February 13th at the Coliseum.

Up next:  For the second time this season, the Carolina Hurricanes will be the opposition as the Islanders attempt to break a six-game losing streak.  The Isles recorded a shoot-out win on October 21st to break the first six-game losing streak and lead the season series two games to one.  Faceoff is at 7:00 pm on Satutrday night at the Coliseum.

Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

Friday, February 05, 2010

Senator Kate? LIBN piece on Ms. Murray

<<The unshakable Kate
by Ambrose Clancy

Published: February 5th, 2010

Aftershocks dominated the morning.

A week after the earthquake battered Haiti, severe tremors brought more suffering. But the morning buzz at Hempstead Town Hall was about the U.S. political foundation still rocking from the night before. A long-shot Republican had claimed the seat held for more than four decades by liberal lion Edward Kennedy.

"Seismic," Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray said brightly, leaving her office for a staff meeting.

Murray's chief-of-staff Ray Mineo followed, as he does whenever the supervisor is on the move. Short and rumpled, dwarfed by the tall, imposing figure of his boss, Mineo was asked his take on the Massachusetts political game changer.

"It's not just one election," he said, citing November's upset races in Westchester and Nassau counties. "Now it's a movement."
A movement which Murray might want to ride beyond Hempstead. She didn't pause when asked about her political future. "Sky's the limit."

The proven vote-getter has won handily every time out of the gate, beginning with a 1998 Assembly bid. She's run Hempstead, the nation's most populous township, for seven years. Even Democratic political ops admit – not for attribution – that the municipality of 800,000 is a model of efficiency. In an anti-incumbent election season stoked by voter rage, Murray ran on her record, clobbering her opponent by a two-to-one margin.

Isn't she politically boxed in?

"Not at all," Murray said, greeting town employees passing in the corridor, flashing a wide, killer smile. "Once upon a time there was a guy named Al D'Amato who was a town supervisor. This is a good jumping-off point for me. This is a huge operation here."

Huge indeed, with the supervisor managing 1,900 full-time employees and a $400 million budget.

Does dropping D'Amato's name mean challenging Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand?

Murray's tone turned coy but serious. "In the pantheon of different elected positions, Washington would be intriguing."

Scott Brown's Massachusetts win and Ed Mangano's out-of-nowhere victory in Nassau gives anyone of substance a puncher's chance these days.

Working in Murray's favor for a U.S. Senate run is that few Republicans have officially thrown their hat in the ring. So far, Bruce Blakeman, a former Nassau County legislator, is the biggest name to declare for the race.

Blakeman may best be known for being the ex-husband of Nancy Shevell, a Paul McCartney paramour. Other than that, he has little name recognition with New York voters, though insiders in his own party know him well. That's not to say they approve of his candidacy.

"Dumb as a stump and arrogant," one close observer of Nassau politics described Blakeman. "Not a good combination."

George Marlin, an author and conservative LIBN columnist, snarked that Blakeman is a lightweight who looks like he's running just to meet girls.

Marlin added that if Murray got Nassau GOP boss Joe Mondello's blessing, Blakeman's candidacy would collapse.

"But if she's going to run, she has to start right now," Marlin added.

Machine operator

Taking a seat at the head of a conference table, Murray greets her top staffers: 11 men in suits.

She has nothing in front of her while everyone else has papers and files. There's no doubt: She is the smartest person in the room.

Talk to anyone about Murray and they'll confirm that. But detractors maintain that being brainy doesn't conceal a machine politician interested only in power.

A product of Mondello's superbly greased machine, Murray rose through the ranks by paying dues and waiting her turn. An assistant attorney general in Gov. George Pataki's administration, she was appointed to run for the Assembly seat when Charles O'Shea resigned to become Nassau County assessor in 1998. She was elevated to Hempstead supervisor from town clerk when Richard Guardino resigned in 2003.

Murray never takes for granted that Hempstead is a Republican fiefdom – the last on Long Island – built on patronage and never forgetting where you came from. Take her 83-year-old father, Norman. He retired from a six-figure job in the town attorney's office with a $49,000 pension on a Friday. By Monday he was back on the payroll as a part-time clerk, making $40 an hour.

And there's Katuria D'Amato, Senator Pothole's wife, who Murray appointed to the town's zoning board of appeals. No matter that Ms. D'Amato's total knowledge of zoning came from a dust-up with neighbors about a wildly ostentatious beach house the D'Amatos felt entitled to build. Murray merely said she was the right person for the job. And that was that.

At the head of the table Murray runs through resolutions with her staff on the next town board agenda, closely questioning them about finances before adjourning the meeting.

It's time for a trip to the beach.

To the Lighthouse

Murray rides shotgun in a gray Jeep Cherokee while executive assistant Reid Berglind drives like it's Sunday at Daytona, not the Meadowbrook.

The supervisor is rocketing toward Point Lookout to inspect a beach erosion project and check up on a shellfish seeding project.
Mineo sits in the back, hanging on as Berglind barrels along. Mineo's been with Murray since her first term seven years ago. But he got close to her when she was town clerk and he was top aide to Guardino, the previous supervisor.

Mineo knows where all bodies are buried, correct? He smiles, yanked into a curve by the Cherokee.

"I just know I'm not buried."

Mineo is not a man to underestimate, just like his chief. Murray's intelligence, energy, focus and superb political skills have never been more evident than in her taking control of the Lighthouse Project.

Kicking around for five years at the county level, Charles Wang's $3.8 billion plan hit a wall when it fell into Murray's hands two years ago. She's taking her time on approving modernization of the run-down Nassau Coliseum and development of nearly 80 surrounding acres into 2,300 residential units and more than a million square feet of retail and office space.

The developer has railed at Murray and threatened to move his Islanders out of Nassau unless the project is fast-tracked. Unions, some with unemployment running up to 35 percent, urge the supervisor to think of the social calamity of joblessness.

She's been accused of pettiness, arrogance, purposely missing meetings and refusing to talk because of partisan rigidity.
Nassau County Legis. David Denenberg, D-Merrick, has thrown up his hands.

"I don't know what page she's on," the legislator said.

Murray has said from the beginning that the enormity of the project, traffic concerns, density, water and energy usage call for caution.
But by being deliberate, Murray has also taken charge of the project. Over time she has won over many Hempstead and county residents who at the start were loudly calling for no delays in kicking off the project.

Murray proceeds with caution because she knows the Lighthouse, in political language, is a "legacy project." No matter how it turns out, a development of this size and importance will be mentioned at the top of her obituary.

Four days before the election in November, Wang and Murray met one-on-one, she said. "I told Charles, 'You have to scale this back,'" Murray said. "I told him, 'There's no way, as presently constituted, this is going anywhere. The public is waking up.'"

Murray said she informed the developer that after a Sept. 22 environmental hearing, e-mails to the town were running 60-40 against the size of the project. Wang, through a spokeswoman, refused to comment for this piece.

The developer badly underestimated Murray, according to a union official.

"My people are being hurt because of the lack of movement and Kate is the only one who can make it happen," the official said. "But I told Charles, 'Remember that Kate Murray doesn't work for you. You can't treat her like she plays on your hockey team.'"

Coming home

The Cherokee rushes into an empty parking lot. Beyond is the Atlantic, with tankers lining the horizon like toy boats. Raucous sea birds wheel above the beach. Murray seems at home. "I love it here," she said, walking up over a dune.

"When we were kids, every summer we were at the beach all the time," said Anne Murray, Kate's sister and the youngest of seven siblings.

Never married, Murray is closer to her mother, father, four brothers, two sisters and a huge crowd of nieces and nephews than anyone else. She has a house next door to  her parents in Levittown, where the Murray clan was raised.

Even as a little girl, she knew her own mind, Anne Murray said.

"At 11 Katie told everyone she was going to be a lawyer," her sister added, noting that she and her sister Maureen are also lawyers.

"But at that age we didn't have any idea what we wanted to do," she laughed. "Not Katie. She knew."

After graduating from Boston College, Murray stayed in Boston, taking a law degree from Suffolk University.

Her undergraduate junior year she studied English at St. Clare's Hall, Oxford, England. The Long Island girl received more than a touch of sophistication.

"In England I could go to France or Holland for the weekend if I wanted," she said. "It was as easy as going to New Jersey."

After law school Murray became a litigator for a firm in Nassau County and then, after a stint at a New Jersey firm defending physicians in malpractice cases, she headed to Albany and the attorney general's office during the Pataki years.

At Point Lookout workers are putting 40,000 plants into dunes to keep large parts of the beach from disappearing.

Checking in on a shellfish seeding operation – "Where's the linguine?" Mineo asks – located in a house set in wetlands, Murray clearly revels in sweating the small stuff of running Hempstead.

She's asked again about her future.

"I can't see myself doing this forever," she said. "Either I'll decide to do something else or the voters will. We all have a shelf life."

Top of the hill

Berglind is pushing the Cherokee hard again as Murray answers question about her political positions. Pro-life, pro-gun control, against same sex marriage but in favor of civil unions. She described herself as a moderate Republican, while being fiscally conservative.
But party labels are meaningless on a local level, she added, noting that picking up the garbage isn't Republican or Democratic.
"Welcome to sanitation world," Murray said as the Cherokee rolls into the sprawling Hempstead sanitation complex in Merrick.
The department takes up more than a quarter of the town's $400 million budget this year, collecting garbage from 80,000 homes each day.

She takes great pride in the former Merrick landfill, which has been transformed into a 52-acre nature preserve, towering up 115 feet from the flat, densely packed suburb. Delegations from as far away as Argentina and China have come to view it and get ideas to take back home.

A Hempstead Democrat who didn't want his name used said, "I give Kate credit. I like the way my garbage is picked up, my streets are plowed and my parks are kept. Everyone does."

Joggers and walkers make their way up through the preserve, including James McKenna, who works in Nassau County corrections, and his wife Christine, daughter Kate and friend Madison.

"We love it here," Christine said. "It's so peaceful. A great place for kids."

Sanitation personnel pile into a just-delivered electric jitney. The supervisor who sits directly behind the driver, a man named Sal, seems to be learning how to operate the vehicle. After a sudden start and stop, Murray said, "It's all right, Sal. No pressure. Only your job on the line."

The remark and laughter from the passengers relax Sal, who drives effortlessly to the top, where views extend to the Manhattan skyline.


Murray takes a meeting in a cramped satellite office of the town's planning department on Nassau Road in Roosevelt. Across the street a rusted hulk left vacant for generations is now a new, 24,000-square-foot medical building, while just down Nassau Road a new bank has gone up from a trash-strewn empty lot.

Working with community leaders under the direction of Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, the town is seeing some victories removing the blighted infrastructure of Roosevelt.

Goosby, a Democrat, praised Murray for her efforts but didn't leave the ground, describing her relationship with Murray as "OK. I don't have a problem working with her."

Passing a storefront church, The Refuge of Hope, Murray said, "It's good to see the great swath of faith in minority communities, but from an economic point of view that's the bummer because all these churches are off the tax rolls."

More than 200 affordable single-family homes have replaced abandoned residences in Hempstead.

"I'd do that every day if I could,' Murray said.

In charge

A scene played out across Long Island somewhere every week – lawyers with briefcases bursting with files, people with a beef, giddy high school kids in their Sunday best and knots of gossiping politicians.

Murray enters exactly on time and opens the town board meeting, asking the audience to keep the people of Haiti in their prayers.

Hempstead has more Haitians than any other Long Island community, and the town has filled two schoolrooms with food and other aid to be shipped to the Caribbean.

The meeting is quick, with proclamations given to the students for superior work and a list of perfunctory resolutions passed unanimously.

Residents complain of Hempstead being saturated with halfway houses. Several people want to be included on a commission studying the town's water supply.

Murray listens and answers every question, masterfully deflecting the offers to serve on commissions.

It's hard to imagine saying "no" with more charm, making the negative sound affirmative.

Or being more in control.
 Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

Monday, February 01, 2010

Double Stat Trick: Philadelphia 2, Isles 0; Florida 2, Isles 1

It was a lost weekend for the Isles as they dropped a pair of low-scoring games.  On to the trick:

1. Saturday in Philadelphia, the Isles suffered their 14th consecutive loss to the Flyers (0-11-3) and their 9th straight loss in Philadelphia (0-8-1) bya score of 2-1..  Daniel Briere and Scott Hartnell had first period goals for the Flyers; Josh Bailey had the Isles' only goal of the weekend, with 5:16 remaining in the middle period.  The 14 straight victories equals the Flyers' longest winning streak against any opponent.

2. Ray Emery made 31 saves for the Flyers, while Dwayne Roloson had 30 saves for the Isles.  Emery is the sixth different Flyer goaltender to defeat the Isles in this stretch; it was his first win over the Isles since March, 2007.

3. Sunday in Sunrise Florida, Tomas Vokoun made 33 saves to record his fourth shutout of January and seventh of the season as the Cats blanked the Isles 2-0.  Both Panther goals came from defensemen and Jordan Leopold and Keith Ballard scored.  Ballard's goal was a killer -- coming with less than ten seconds to play in the second period.  Rick DiPietro made 23 saves for the Isles.

... a few more..

4.  The Isles are 0-3-0 on this road trip, and have scored just two goals.  They have scored just seven goals in their last six games (they were credited for an 8th goal for their shootout win vs. Florida on January 21). It's their fewest goals in a six game stretch since scoring just five in six games from March 28-April 6, 2006.

5.  The Isles have lost five straight games, all in regulation.  It's the first time since they lost seven straight in regulation last January that they have gone pointless in five straight games.  They have also lost four straight road games, all in regulation.

6.  Apparently the Isles have the calendar all mixed up.  After roaring like lions through their first nine January games (7-2-0), the Isles were slaughtered like lambs in their final five games (0-5-0).

7. With the Rangers' win in Colorado on Sunday night, the Isles remain in 13th place in the East, but are now three points out of a playoff berth.  The Isles are only nine points ahead of Carolina and Toronto.

8. Vokoun continued his mastery over the Islanders.  He has shutout the Isles in one of the two games played in Sunrise in each of the last three seasons.  He has now defeated the Isles twelve times in his career (including twice by shootout); he's allowed only 18 goals in those games, with includes four shutouts.

9. The Flyers lead the season series four games to none (and eight points to zero).  Three of the games have been decided by a 2-1 score.  The Flyers own nine 2-1 wins over the Isles all-time; three occurred in the Isles' first two seasons; three in the next 34 seasons, and three in the last four meetings between the squads.  The teams will meet again on March 9th in Philadelphia and on April 1st at the Coliseum.

10. The Panthers win the season series three games to one (and seven points to three). The Isles have lost seven straight in Sunrise (0-6-1) and have only three victories in Florida in the last seven seasons.

Up next: The Isles will have three days off to try and find their offense.  The road trip concludes on Thursday in Tampa Bay as they begin a final stretch of six games in eleven days leading up to the Olympic break.  The Lightnning lead the season series 2-0, winning 4-0 in Tampa and 4-2 on Long Island in a 17-day span in December.
 Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick